Orthodontic Dictionary

Here are some terms frequently used in orthodontics. To learn more, please contact us today.

Appliance: Appliances can be fixed or removable. They have numerous applications, for example: move one or more teeth, treat the jaws or maintain tooth position after orthodontic treatment.


Brackets (braces): Brackets are orthodontic fixtures bonded to the teeth, and are commonly called "braces". Orthodontic wire is inserted into the braces to apply gentle pressure to the teeth and initiate orthodontic movement.


Elastic: Elastics are used to close spaces between teeth or correct the relationship between the upper and lower teeth.


Face mask: The face mask is a removable unit that applies a tensile force to move the upper jaw forward. It is often used in combination with palatal expansion. We use it with patients whose upper jaw is moved back and whose front teeth are in crossbite.


Head gear: The head-gear is a removable device that applies pressure to the teeth and the upper jaw. We use it in patients whose upper teeth stick out. This unit can also guide the growth of the face and upper jaw.


Hook: We use small hooks welded to the orthodontic wire or braces. They are used to hold the elastic bands of all types.


Invisalign: Invisalign is an alternative to traditional treatment with braces. This system corrects the position of the teeth with a series of invisible, custom made aligners. Invisalign can correct certain types of orthodontic problems.


Ligature wire: The ligature wire is a very small wire attached around a bracket or appliance. It serves to stabilize the wire or appliance.


Lip bumper: The lip bumper is a device used to increase the space for adult teeth in the lower jaw.


MiniScope Telescoping Herbst, Mara: The MiniScope and Mara are fixed appliances used to correct a discrepancy between the upper and lower jaws. We use these in growing children and adolescents when the lower jaw is smaller than the upper jaw.


Mouth guard: The mouth guard is a removable appliance used by athletes of all ages to protect their teeth during sports.


Orthodontic wire: Orthodontic wires are inserted in the braces and rings and are used to apply light and continuous force to the teeth to initiate orthodontic movement.


Palatal expansion device: The palatal expansion device is a fixed device that increases the width of the upper jaw as well creating space for adult teeth.


Retention apparatus: A retention device (retainer) is a removable device that is worn when orthodontic treatment is completed and the braces are removed. It serves to maintain the position of the teeth and the shape of the jaws. The retention stage is an essential step of orthodontic treatment.


Retention wire: The retention wire is a wire bonded to the inside of the teeth. It is often used on anterior teeth.


Ring: The rings are metal rings bonded around the molars.


Separators: These are small rubber bands placed between the teeth to create a gap between two teeth. This space facilitates placing the rings around the teeth.


Spring: Springs are used to open or close spaces between teeth. They can also be used to correct the relationship between the upper and lower teeth in the case of Forsus type springs.


TADs: This is a temporary bone anchor (Temporary Anchorage Devices). A TADs is a titanium anchor used by orthodontists for increasing the efficiency of orthodontic movements.


Wax: Orthodontic wax is placed on wires or brackets to prevent irritation of the cheeks or lips.